Aquinas, a DEI precept is that a lack of diversity is a sign of inequity, and the authors discuss how the pursuit of equity is worsening the teaching of mathematics:

An even bigger problem, in our view, is that the educational establishment has an almost complete lock on the content taught in our schools, with little input from the university math community. This unusual feature of American policymaking has led to a constant stream of ill-advised and dumbed-down “reforms,” which have served to degrade the teaching of mathematics to such an extent that it has become difficult to distinguish a student who is capable from one who is not.

Those who find that last assertion difficult to accept should peruse the revised Mathematics Framework proposed by California’s Department of Education. If implemented, the California framework would do away with any tracking or differentiation of students up to the 11th grade. In order to achieve what the authors call “equity” in math education, the framework would effectively close the main pathway to calculus in high school to all students except those who take extra math outside school—which, in practice, means students from families that can afford enrichment programs (or those going to charter and private schools). California is just one state, of course. But as has been widely noted, when it comes to policymaking, what happens in California today often will come to other states tomorrow.

The framework proposed for California’s 10,588 public schools and their six-million-plus students promotes “data science” as a preferred pathway, touting it as the mathematics of the 21st century. While this might sound like a promising idea, the actual “data-science” pathway described in the framework minimizes algebraic training to such an extent that it leaves students completely unprepared for most STEM undergraduate degrees. Algebra is essential to modern mathematics; and there is hardly any application of mathematics (including real data science) that is not based to a large extent on either algebra or calculus (with the latter being impossible to explain or implement without the former).

The authors write that “a fundamental aim of this framework is to respond to issues of inequity in mathematics learning”; that “we reject ideas of natural gifts and talents [and the] cult of the genius”; and that “active efforts in mathematics teaching are required in order to counter the cultural forces that have led to and continue to perpetuate current inequities.” And yet the research they cite to justify these claims has been demonstrated to be shallow, misleadingly applied, vigorously disputed, or just plainly wrong.